July 1, 2024
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4 min

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) and its impact on the Hotel Industry

The European Economic Area’s hospitality landscape is undergoing a profound transformation due to the implementation of the Digital Markets Act (DMA). This new regulation, aimed at curbing the dominance of tech giants and creating a fairer digital market, has had significant repercussions for hotels, particularly in their online visibility and booking mechanisms.

The DMA was introduced to address the imbalance in the digital marketplace by regulating "gatekeepers" — large tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Meta. These companies, due to their market dominance, had previously enjoyed preferential treatment in search results. For hotels, Google’s compliance with DMA has led to major shifts in how hotel information is presented on search results pages.

One of the most immediate impacts of the DMA is the alteration of Google’s search results, specifically for hotels. Google has had to stop self-preferencing its own services such as Google Hotel Ads, Google Maps, and Google Flights in search results. This has resulted in a 30% drop in clicks and a 36% decrease in direct bookings for hotels in the affected markets. The presentation of hotel offers is now less organised, making it harder for users to find relevant information quickly and easily.

Challenges for Independent Hotels

Independent hotels and smaller providers are facing significant challenges due to these changes. The DMA, while aiming to level the playing field, has inadvertently strengthened the position of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) like and Expedia. With Google no longer favouring its own services, OTAs have gained more visibility and prominence in search results, capturing the traffic and bookings lost by hotels. This increased dependence on OTAs means higher commission fees and reduced profitability for hotels.

From a user perspective, the search and booking process has become more cumbersome. Previously, Google’s integrated approach allowed users to see hotel availability, prices, and even book directly from search results or Google Maps. Now, users must navigate through additional steps, such as using filters or clicking through to OTAs, making the booking process less intuitive and more time-consuming.

Strategic Shifts for Hotels

To mitigate the negative impacts of the DMA, hotels must adapt their digital strategies. Here are some key approaches:

1. Enhanced Digital Marketing

Hotels need to increase their investment in digital marketing, focusing on paid advertising to maintain visibility in search results. This includes optimising their presence on metasearch platforms and investing in targeted online ads.

2. Strengthening Direct Channels

Enhancing the functionality and user experience of their own websites is crucial. Hotels should focus on SEO, offer competitive rates, and highlight unique selling points to attract direct bookings.

3. Leveraging Customer Reviews

With Google integrating reviews from various sources, hotels should actively manage their online reputation by encouraging guests to leave positive reviews on multiple platforms.

4. Adapting to New Formats

The introduction of “Places Sites” on Google’s results page means hotels must ensure their information is accurately represented by third-party platforms and OTAs.

The Digital Markets Act has introduced a new era of digital regulation that significantly impacts the hospitality industry. While it aims to create a more balanced market, the immediate effects have been challenging for hotels, particularly smaller and independent establishments. By adopting strategic digital marketing practices and enhancing their direct booking channels, hotels can navigate these changes and maintain their competitiveness in the evolving digital landscape. To effectively adapt and thrive, partnering with a digital marketing expert like myhotelshop can provide the necessary tools and expertise to boost your hotel's online visibility and direct booking capabilities.